My Birthday is approaching. In 3 days, I will be taking another step toward turning half a century. If you’re wondering, I will be 47 years-old! I’ve always looked forward to my birthday every year because there’s a certain wisdom that can only come from living life year after year; but 47 is hitting me in a different way because this is going to be a year of transition in my life as a mother. My daughter is now driving her own car, making her own money, and she’s getting ready to do some traveling this summer without me or my husband. The reality of her not needing me as much has hit me hard. I feel as if I’m grieving the end of my daughter’s childhood. I’m grateful for the fact that she is responsible, mature and has good sense of judgment; but — just like any good parent — there’s a part of me that wants to protect her from all harm. So as I live this year of transition, the one question that keeps repeating in my mind is this: Who am I?
If you asked me who I was in the first 27 years of my life, I would’ve said, “I’m a dancer.” After I got married, my identity became “Shawn’s wife.” Two years later, I became “Jade’s mom.” It seems like whatever/whoever took up most of my time became my identity. I’m pretty sure that when I was in the corporate world, my identity was “Business Analyst,” “Project Manager,” or “Corporate Policies and Procedures Writer.” But are any of these identifiers who I really was (or am)?
You may be surprised that I didn’t say, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.” I’ve always believed that me being a Christian/Disciple was a given and that I wouldn’t even have to say that, kind of like how I don’t need to say I’m Asian because I think that’s pretty obvious (see my photo on the left 😆). If I said, “Hi, I’m Asian,” when meeting someone, they would probably be confused since that’s obvious, or they may just wait for a punchline. So what is the correct way to identify myself? How about my name? Am I Jheni? Not quite.
The names we go by serve as identifiers to establish individuality and uniqueness; but our names are not who we are. I may also be a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a friend, a student, a teacher… but none of these are who I am either. These roles that we play here on earth are all temporary. As I peel off the layers of temporary earthly roles and tangible titles, I am reminded that who I am is not the body that I reside in; the body that I get to live in is a vessel for who I really am, which is a spirit; and that spirit — which is the core of my truest form — belongs to God because I was created by God. A song that comes to mind is Hillsong’s “Who You Say I am” (here’s part of the song):
Who the Son sets free, oh is free indeed. I’m a child of God, yes, I am.
In my Father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes, I am
I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who You say I am.
You are for me, not against me. I am who You say I am.
When I get tempted to focus on things that bring me immediate — but temporary — security and identity (such as trying to hold on to a youthful appearance, exercising to get back to the size that I was during my physical best, etc.), I remind myself that, “though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 10:16)
So who am I?
I’m a Child of God, yes, I am.